Rap Disrespect of Black Icons Raises Concerns

Jesse Washington, My Way, March 2, 2014

Malcolm X and rap music have always fit together like a needle in the groove, connected by struggle, strength and defiance. But three recent episodes involving the use or misuse of Malcolm and other black icons have raised the question: Has rap lost touch with black history?

Chart-topping rapstress Nikki Minaj provoked widespread outrage with an Instagram post featuring one of black history’s most poignant images: Malcolm X peering out the window of his home, rifle in hand, trying to defend his wife and children from firebombs while under surveillance by federal agents. Superimposed on the photo: the title of Minaj’s new song, which denigrates certain black men and repeats the N-word 42 times.

That came after Minaj’s mentor Lil Wayne recorded a verse last year using the civil rights martyr Emmett Till in a sexual metaphor, and the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons posted a Harriet Tubman “sex tape” video on his comedy channel.

{snip}

“I don’t want to say today’s rappers are not educated about black history, but they don’t seem as aware as rap generations before them,” said Jermaine Hall, editor-in-chief of Vibe, the hip-hop magazine and website.

While previous generations had to struggle with the racism and neglect of the 1970s or the crack epidemic of the 1980s, Hall said, today’s young people have not faced the same type of racial struggle—“They’re sort of getting further and further away from the civil rights movement.”

“In the ‘80s, whether it was KRS-One, Public Enemy, or the Native Tongues, that entire movement, it was very in tune with black history,” Hall said. “They knew everything about Malcolm, about Martin, about Rosa Parks. Now, the new rappers just aren’t as in tune.”

Indeed, Minaj issued a statement expressing disbelief at the uproar and apologizing to Malcolm’s family “if the meaning of the photo was misconstrued.” Wayne wrote to the Till family to “acknowledge your hurt, as well as the letter you sent to me via your attorneys.” Simmons was the only one to say, “I am sincerely sorry.”

{snip}

Tubman also is a longtime rap staple, mentioned by everyone from Ice Cube (“She helped me run like Harriet Tubman”) to Pharoahe Monch (“A railroad to underground like Harriet Tubman”). Till, too, has been mentioned in songs such as Kanye’s breakthrough 2003 single “Through The Wire.”

But today’s rappers reflect our money-obsessed society, said Bakari Kitwana, whose Rap Sessions organization just moderated a series of community dialogues between the civil rights and hip-hop generations.

“We see a lot of things going on with our young people, and we don’t feel like we are teaching them values that can compete with the way the value of money is ingrained in our culture,” Kitwana said. “Everything is just focused on money. If you can get money, whatever else you’re doing doesn’t matter.”

{snip}

He was echoed by Paradise Gray, who performed in the 1980s with the Afrocentric rap group X Clan.

“Mainstream rap music has lost its reverence for anything besides money,” Gray said.

Today’s rappers threaten to kill people who disrespect them, “but they sit back and let you disrespect our legacy, our culture, our history,” he said.

“What,” Gray asked, “will the disrespect of your humanity and your blackness cost you?”

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  • dd121

    Put fireflies in a jar and screw on the lid and they’ll eat each other.

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      Put a couple of workboots in the dryer, start reciting some Dr. Suess and VIOLÁ!!

      You’re now a rapper.

      • tlk244182

        These kids have workboots? For what?

        • Bon, From the Land of Babble

          It’s a joke.

          Rap is made by people who can’t sing, can’t play an instrument, and can’t write lyrics.

          • tlk244182

            Got it.

  • Luca

    It was okay when they were making money with lyrics about killing Whites, the police and slappin’ ho’s; but disrespecting black icons..well.. that’s just over the line.

  • Rappers are black think tanks.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    Today’s rappers are not educated about black history….Has rap lost touch with black history?

    What a laugh!

    Rap is degenerate, and it is NOT music.

    And, who cares?

    Its connection is to hos, n***erz, drugs, drank, 187s, standing up to The Man and running from the po-pos.

    Look here!!

    • pcmustgo

      forgot kanye west

      • sbuffalonative

        and Jay-Z.

      • Bon, From the Land of Babble

        White woman hater Kanye says on one of his albums that White women have flat asses but are OK to s*** his ****.
        For this, he gets millions of dollars and accolades from his community.

        • Sharps Rifle

          ..and is married to a Charlie Bravo. Yep, typical ni&&er.

    • Plies: Streatching all of his words?

      • So CAL Snowman

        Elongating the pronunciation of words

        • “streatching” ? Is that a slang version of stretching?

      • Bon, From the Land of Babble

        “Streatching” is Ebonics for “Stretching.”

        Urban Dictionary:

        1. Ebonics is really the study of the rules applied to turn English into some uneducated sounding pseudo-language whose purpose is for the most part to insult and denigrate Whitey.

        2. A poor excuse for a failure to grasp the basics of english. When in doubt, throw an “izzle” sound in the middle of any word of just string random thoughts together and insinuate that they actually mean something.

        3. The language of the gangstas and negroes.

        Ebonics: “Yo G, you frontin me?”
        English: “Excuse me, my peer, are you attempting to influence me to engage in a violent action with you?”

        Ebonics: “You gots to git those Benjamins so you cin git dat bling-bling fo yo ride”
        English: “You need to get money so that you can get expensive accessories for your car.”

        Ebonics Translator:

        http //joel net/EBONICS/Translator

  • Malcolm X and rap music have always fit together like a needle in the groove, connected by struggle, strength and defiance. But three recent episodes involving the use or misuse of Malcolm and other black icons have raised the question: Has rap lost touch with black history?

    No, because it’s just the next chapter. Malcolm X-Lax was essentially assassinated as a part of black gang violence, and now rap is black gang violence set to “melody” and “lyrics.”

    Chart-topping rapstress Nikki Minaj provoked widespread outrage with an Instagram post featuring one of black history’s most poignant images: Malcolm X peering out the window of his home, rifle in hand, trying to defend his wife and children from firebombs while under surveillance by federal agents. Superimposed on the photo: the title of Minaj’s new song, which denigrates certain black men and repeats the N-word 42 times. That came after Minaj’s mentor Lil Wayne recorded a verse last year using the civil rights martyr Emmett Till in a sexual metaphor, and the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons posted a Harriet Tubman “sex tape” video on his comedy channel. What is happening to mainstream rap music, which was launched by Simmons and is now ruled by the likes of Minaj and Wayne? “I don’t want to say today’s rappers are not educated about black history, but they don’t seem as aware as rap generations before them,” said Jermaine Hall, editor-in-chief of Vibe, the hip-hop magazine and website.

    Caring about history, aka acting white. Leftist white people care more about black history than black people care about black history.

    While previous generations had to struggle with the racism and neglect of the 1970s or the crack epidemic of the 1980s, Hall said, today’s young people have not faced the same type of racial struggle – “They’re sort of getting further and further away from the civil rights movement.”

    Silly rabbit, tricks are for grownups. When you have no real struggles of your own, the obvious thing to do is to invent them. Photo ID to vote, Trayvon Martin, school-to-prison pipeline, achievement gap, food deserts.

    Remember the reason that Malcolm X-Lax was peering out his window holding a rifle. That’s because he knew that the Nation of Islam, who he had quit and left behind not long before, was gunning for his head. The way this article was written, you would walk away thinking the FBI wanted to and eventually did assassinate him.

    Jasiri X, a rapper whose music focuses on black empowerment and current events, said many of today’s mainstream rappers use images of revolutionary black icons to promote an anti-establishment image. “All the while, they’re being funded and pushed by major corporations,” he said.

    Otherwise, KKKrazy Glue loses its adhesive qualities. The people associated with those certain “major corporations” (media corporations) that are funding them and pushing them and the rappers themselves may not like each other, but they have a common interest in trying to combat and topple their common enemy, that is, white bread “traditional” America.

    “Mainstream rap music has lost its reverence for anything besides money,” Gray said. Today’s rappers threaten to kill people who disrespect them, “but they sit back and let you disrespect our legacy, our culture, our history,” he said.

    And that’s completely unlike the way it used to be. After all, Malcolm X lived a long full life and died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 85 back in 2010.

  • Spartacus

    It’s cute that gr0ids think they have “icons”… That those “people” actually did something worthwhile in their lives .

    • foundingstockcracker

      Nigga histry? What bez dat?

  • libertarian1234

    “Today’s rappers threaten to kill people who disrespect them, “but they sit back and let you disrespect our legacy, our culture, our history,” he said.”
    Yeah. Whut’s up wi’ dat?
    Dey should be wantin’ to kill ebbybody who want to disrespect our fine legacy of crime, chaos, violence and hate.
    Whut’s wrong wit dis new generation?

  • benvad

    Who cares about these primitives.

  • Apparently I have more respect for Malcolm X than blacks. A few days ago I wrote an article, “Ten Quotes from Malcolm X Showing How You Can Sabotage the System that is Destroying the White Middle and Working Classes” for my saboteur365 blog. The best Malcolm X quote for whites to consider is IMO this one:

    Quote:
    Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression, because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action.
    Unquote

    Conviction = White power = Action

    The tyrants in Washington who are oppressing the white race are going to learn a painful lesson in the near future. Whites realize their first responsibility is to the truth, not to political correctness, and that’s changing white mindsets and hardening white hearts toward the tyrants. Our darkest hour is their last dying gasp. Count on it.

    • Nathanwartooth

      Just wanted to let you know that Disqus lets us use certain HTML tags, like blockquote.

      Just put whatever you want between

      and

      without the first space.

      It will look like this

    • Sangraal

      Malcolm X also condemned miscegenation (which, ironically, he was a product of – hence, perhaps, the resentment and degree of intelligence). He recognised that its logical conclusion was racial extinction.

  • Truthseeker

    For blacks, “history” is always a narrative of “oppression.” Because every other race outdoes them in just about everything, they have to claim that it’s someone else’s fault rather than face up to their own shortcomings. I imagine that if you had the option of being rich and reveling in it or walking around aggrieved because of how “oppressed” your people are, the former option would lead to much more enjoyment of life.

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      Blacks have to obsess over and moan about their history of “oppression.” If they didn’t, they wouldn’t get any more free stuff from whitey.

  • JohnEngelman

    Rap music performers and their fans do not know any more about any kind of history than they know about the rules of multiplication and division.

  • Truth Teller

    *%*@^#*#%^* them all from St Martin to St. Trayvon

  • “Everything is just focused on money. If you can get money, whatever else you’re doing doesn’t matter.”

    Sounds like capitalism!

  • Simonetta

    The idea that the most backward and violent people in history would choose a non-violent intellectual as their ‘leader’ is just completely prima facie absurd no matter how many pictures of him that old black women have on their mantles, next to the photo of the grandson as a four-year old. The grandson who’s now doing 20-to-life for torture/murder.

    You know, Malcolm X knew that he would have no credibility with black people if they knew that he wasn’t actually,… uh… black. He had bright red-brown skin color. That’s why he never permitted a color picture of himself to be published in the mainstream news media like LIFE, TIME, and LOOK magazines.

    • MBlanc46

      Detroit Red.

  • John K

    Deep down, blacks themselves know their “culture” is one great lie.

  • MBlanc46

    Is there nothing that these people won’t whine about?

  • borogirl54

    Rap music is about the Benjamin’s. Nothing more, Nothing less. These folks know nothing about history, their own or anyone else’s.

  • Snakes on a Car

    Look at white pop stars. All the races in America are becoming more degenerate. This is a dying empire.

    • This years Grammies rock category had three groups of 70 year nominees (McCartney, Black Sabbath, the Stones) a Bantu lead band and some White group that I’ve never heard of.

      The category was introduced by a Bantu, then the award handed was over by another Bantu, the message I felt I was meant to get is “Rock is Dead”.
      For the record McCartney and Dave Grohl won, with Grohl later wearing a Slayer T-shirt while preforming, which I enjoyed (that was all I could tolerate).

      • Sangraal

        Slayer is the best thing ever done by a Mestizo (Tom Araya). Funnily enough, they covered Minor Threat’s ‘Guilty of being white’, an anti-white guilt song…albeit one written by liberal punks.
        If ‘rock is dead’, I will not mourn it. I believe it has overall been a negative influence on our people, despite the ‘implicit whiteness’ assosciated with it.

        • I’d sneakily correct my typo ‘Angel’, if there wasn’t a video link in my comment, as it’d go back for moderation pardon.

      • indoctrination_FAIL

        On a related note: I watched, and mostly enjoyed, the 50th anniversary show about the Beatles’ arrival in America. What grated about it was–big surprise!–the gratuitous “commentary” at the start of the show from that noted musicologist LL Cool J [sic].

        –about the Beatles. Yeah, right.

        Mercifully we were spared his speechifying after the first two segments or so. I wonder who wrote his lines.

  • Biff_Maliboo

    Much like the phrase ‘Elena Kagen Swimsuit Calendar, ‘Harriet Tubman sex tape’ are 4 words that should never be used in that order.

  • Truth Teller

    Malcom X I haven’t heard of him since the grandson burned Malcom’s widow to death. I checked Wikipedia . The grandson who murdered Ms Bettty X went to Mexico to organize Mexican construction workers. He was beaten to death for an unpaid bill for prostitutes and liquor.
    Such upstanding Icons, Jesse Jackson, Sharpton, St. Martin the adulterer and fornicator.
    I’d say the rappers are giving the Icons exactly the respect they deserve.

    • Irishgirl

      If I remember correctly, some article asked the (unintentionally) hilarious question about whether the grandson “immolated” (emulated) his grandfather.

  • LIBERTYSINCURSION

    Rap music has become one of my favorite forms of music. It truly holds a special place in my heart. Not because it sounds good, because it most certainly does not. In fact even calling it music is an assault on the very idea of music itself. No, I love rap music because of the values and life principals it teaches black youffs. Whitey could never in a million years ingrain such a self destructive psychosis within the black community that Rap music has accomplished in just 25 years. So, while I absolutely hate hearing that garbage. I’ve grown quite fond of it’s contributions, and hope it sticks around for awhile longer. The thinning of the Groidian’s numbers through black on black crime, instigated and made out to be cool through Rap music. Is totally worth the noise to me.

  • Brian

    I wonder when scientists will discover why they move like that…Dude just to the right of Captain Redpants especially.

  • blight14

    “Black icons”, really?

  • Garrett Brown

    “Black culture” gets me every time. Too funny.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    Black Africans have no “history” worth mentioning and no “humanity” worth defending. As the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel once pointed out, the African black is man in his pre-historical or natural condition. This is a state of absolute and thorough injustice; only by fully participating in the historical process does man attain freedom. Slavery and colonialism were good for negroes because it placed them on the bottom rung of the ladder of history. However, because the negro is by definition a slave, he will never ascend that ladder and fully mature toward freedom and rational consciousness. After discussing Africa at some length in his Philosophy of History, Hegel concludes:

    At this point we leave Africa, not to mention it again. For it is no historical part of the World; it has no movement or development to exhibit. Historical movements in it — that is in its northern part — belong to the Asiatic or European World. Carthage displayed there an important transitionary phase of civilization; but, as a Phoenician colony, it belongs to Asia. Egypt will be considered in reference to the passage of the human mind from its Eastern to its Western phase, but it does not belong to the African Spirit. What we properly understand by Africa, is the Unhistorical, Undeveloped Spirit, still involved in the conditions of mere nature, and which had to be presented here only as on the threshold of the World’s History.

  • WR_the_realist

    This sounds like so very much to me as someone else’s problem.

  • But they need to get better.

    For instance:

    Measuring the distance between the hood and the state penitentiary in kilometers, not miles.

  • Luca

    Was this taken from the “Million Man March?”

  • Brian

    I wonder if this has something to do with the miserable attendance of black-American-themed museums, and all their financial troubles….

  • antiquesunlight

    This is one of the unfortunate consequences of being in school with black people and being indoctrinated with anti-white propaganda. When I was a kid growing up in a black neighborhood, I listened to rap because that’s what everyone around me listened to (besides my family). Fortunately, when I got to be about 9, I heard other kinds of music and realized how much better it was. But not all other white people were as quick to realign as I was.

    • soul hunter

      Since when did rap music ever show respect for anything ..

      • antiquesunlight

        I don’t know what you mean.

        • soul hunter

          From what I’ve heard the lyrics usually dissing women, race or the man..,with plenty of slang in the mix making the result disgusting garbage . . .I know, if your raised with it, that’s your thing . . but it’s far from an appealing art form to me ..

          • antiquesunlight

            I agree. It’s disgusting and ridiculous hogwash. I don’t know how any intelligent adult can like it.

  • indoctrination_FAIL

    it’s certainly as “accurate” as it needs to be for purposes of discussion here.

    “many people under 40 grew up with Hip Hop [sic].” And they deserve our pity, at least those who look like me–and they have every right to feel rage that they’ve been deprived so many years of real music.

    Are you happy to be an accessory to that crime? I think you are.

  • Katherine McChesney

    Ridiculous blacks. The silliest and dumbest people on earth.

  • I think we’re all kindred spirits here my friend.
    Also RIP Cliff Burton, Dimebag Darrell, Chuck Schuldiner (the father of Death metal, who’s Jewish by the way) and many others I’m sure.
    I’d never have guessed 20 years ago that I’d still be listening to this stuff, but here we are and nothing better (that I’ve found at least) has come along.
    As I’m still finding myself listening to the Foo Fighters, Sound Garden, Faith no More, Metallic, Pantera, Rob Zombie and so on.
    Maybe like the Boomers you just listen to the music of your youth, your whole life, or the corporations taking over the music industry has made it harder for good new original bands to break through (see my three 70 year olds being nominated for the best Rock category comment above as an eg.).
    But I’m happy in my rut.

  • PesachPatriot

    The clash is good, but I generally prefer a lot of american punk over the british stuff….some of my stateside favorites are dead kennedys, misfits, blood for blood and dropkick murphys…..i do like some brit punk though….the business is a great band